Edge rushers get all the buzz, but did you know that — geometrically — the quickest path to the quarterback is from the interior? Defensive tackles just cut right to the chase, and that’s what we’re going to do as we unveil our top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s our latest top 10 list at PFN, derived from our consensus Top 300 Big Board.
Top 10 Defensive Tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft | 6-10
Here’s our latest list of the top 10 defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft, starting with No. 10.
10) Travon Walker, Georgia
It’s just insane that Travon Walker is perhaps the fourth interior defensive lineman that comes to mind when discussing the Georgia Bulldogs. On any other team, Walker would be one of the premier defensive playmakers. But in a rotation that includes Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, and future NFL Draft darling Jalen Carter, Walker doesn’t always get his due.
On our consensus big board at PFN, however, Walker receives recognition as one of the top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. Walker’s weight may be a topic of discussion in the future — he’s listed at 275 pounds but may end up closer to 300. Closer to 300 would be a better range for Walker. Yet, he’s already a tremendously versatile lineman with good burst and length, with lateral twitch also mixed into his game.
9) John Ridgeway, Arkansas
Listed size is a question mark for Walker, but it’s not for Arkansas’ John Ridgeway. Ridgeway — a transfer from Illinois State — stands around 6’6″, 320 pounds. He was productive with the Redbirds, and immediately fit in with his Razorback teammates in the SEC. The ease of his transition has been impressive, and it’s something that magnifies his appeal.
With his size, Ridgeway has great length — early reports list his arms around 34 inches. That length allows Ridgeway to levy violent extensions against his opponents, and he has the strength to disengage as well. With a decent first step, Ridgeway can carry a great deal of momentum into his rushes, and his well-proportioned frame makes him tough to move in the run game.
8) Colby Wooden, Auburn
Positional ambiguity can dilute a player’s stock at times. Colby Wooden is another 2022 prospect who’s suffered that fate. Nevertheless, the junior defender has a lot of upside, and he could be one of the top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft class when it’s all said and done.
Right now, Wooden is listed around 6’5″, 278 pounds. He can play anywhere from 5-technique to 1-technique, and his versatility is a large part of his appeal. Wooden is a stellar athlete with great length, frame density, and closing burst at the contact point.
He has an early-round grade from PFN Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline. So far this year, with 7 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, he’s quietly fulfilling that upside.
7) Haskell Garrett, Ohio State
The Ohio State Buckeyes have a strong recent track record for producing NFL-quality interior defensive linemen. Dre’Mont Jones and DaVon Hamilton have both risen to prominent roles with their respective teams. Meanwhile, Tommy Togiai was selected in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Ohio State has a reputation at this position, and Haskell Garrett can add to it as one of the top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft. A fifth-year senior, Garrett is embarking on his most productive season yet. The 6’2″, 300-pound lineman has 4 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in seven games. Garrett’s not the longest player, but he’s naturally well-leveraged and fairly explosive off the snap.
6) Tyler Davis, Clemson
A torn bicep prevented Tyler Davis from taking hold of the 2021 season, but the Clemson defensive tackle has an appealing NFL Draft profile, nonetheless. Davis was one of my top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft ahead of the season. And while an injury prevented him from building on his promise, he still has a lot going for him.
Like Garrett, Davis is shorter, compact, and naturally well-leveraged. However, I think Davis’ proportional length is a little bit better. Additionally, he has great explosiveness, twitch, and power for his size. Health will be a looming question for Davis after his surgery. But when healthy, he has the tools to be an impactful pass-rush catalyst on the interior.
Top 10 Defensive Tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft | 1-5
Here are our top five defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft.
5) Zachary Carter, Florida
This draft class has an unusually high number of hybrid edge defenders, and Zachary Carter is one of the best prospects in that mold. He’s listed at 6’4″, 285 pounds, but he wears that weight very well. Carter’s compact, well-built, and athletic enough to line up on the edge and produce there. So far this year, he has 5.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble in just seven games.
Carter likely translates best in a 3-technique role at the next level. He’s shown he can shade inside at the collegiate level, and on the interior, his combination of burst and length is more of a mismatch. Nevertheless, versatility is always in high demand, especially in an NFL that demands generating displacement on every down. Carter can be that chess piece on the line for defensive coordinators.
4) Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Georgia legitimately has at least three 2022 NFL Draft prospects at every level of their defense. On the line, Jordan Davis and Travon Walker are complemented well by Devonte Wyatt. He doesn’t have as much name recognition as his peers, but Wyatt has a good amount of upside in his own right.
Standing at 6’3″, 315 pounds, Wyatt isn’t quite as big as Davis. Still, he has a burly frame with good proportional length. His active hands also help contribute to consistent disruption on passing downs. Wyatt is one of the more underrated defensive tackles in college football when it comes to making quarterbacks uncomfortable. He’s had a great season and is one of our top defensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft.
3) Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
The Oklahoma defense has largely been a disappointment in 2021, but the defensive line remains a formidable unit with several high-quality 2022 NFL Draft prospects. Perrion Winfrey might be the best of the bunch. At 6’4″, 292 pounds, Winfrey has similar measurements to DeMarvin Leal. He isn’t quite as well-proportioned as Leal, but he has a similar vein of athletic upside.
Few linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft are as twitchy as Winfrey is off the snap. He brings a ton of juice as a pass rusher, but he can use his length to play gaps in run defense as well. The JUCO product already has career-leading numbers (4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss) in just seven games. With a strong finish, he could build more Round 1 buzz.
2) Jordan Davis, Georgia
He may not have the raw statistical production, but one could argue that there hasn’t been a more impactful player at the line of scrimmage than Jordan Davis this season. Davis has 1.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss through seven games, but his impact has spanned far beyond the stat sheet.
At around 6’6″, 340 pounds, Davis is a massive spectacle. He’s built like a nose tackle, but Davis moves surprisingly well for his size. He covers a lot of ground in pursuit, and in tight spaces, his violence and power can be overwhelming for interior offensive linemen. With his dual-sided ability to both eat space and generate penetration, Davis is a menace on the defensive line. In fact, Davis doesn’t just eat space. He devours it. If he keeps this trajectory, he’s an easy first-round pick.
1) DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Before the season, DeMarvin Leal was the consensus top defensive tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft. Now, Davis may have some merit in that discussion. But for now, Leal remains the highest-ranked interior defensive lineman on PFN’s consensus big board.
At 6’4″, 290 pounds, Leal brings impressive size, as well as the athleticism to play almost anywhere on the line. The Texas A&M product checks all the boxes — length, explosiveness, twitch, flexibility, and agility. He also has a working arsenal of pass-rushing moves. While he hasn’t been quite as consistent a run defender as in 2021, his pass-rushing upside is astronomical. Furthermore, he can still be a high-level three-down defender. For that reason, he remains our DT1. The gap, however, is closing.
- Keondre Coburn, Texas
- Christopher Hinton, Michigan
- Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
- Matthew Butler, Tennessee
- Deslin Alexandre, Pittsburgh
- Travis Jones, Connecticut